The materials of poetry are words. Poems are created step by step, by building words into structures, beginning with the phrases and clauses that make up the lines, stanzas and other formal sections. A poet — the word derives from the Greek meaning ‘maker’ — constructs the whole from these parts. It is with this etymology that George Puttenham began his highly significant and influential tract in the development of English rhetoric and poetics, The Arte of English Poesie, published in 1589: ‘A poet is as much to say as a maker.’ 2 Poets’ techniques, the skills they employ in the service of their craft, lie in selecting their material and then shaping it into an expressive work of art.
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